The Al Dhafra Festival has drawn the participation of 35,000 camels, 4,000 camel owners, and 1,000 azbas, or traditional Arab camps, spread around the desert of Madinat Zayed in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.
Mohammed bin Adhed Al Muhairi, Director of camel beauty competitions at Al Dhafra Festival, said that the ongoing festival which is organised by the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee - Abu Dhabi, CPHFC, and runs until December 30th, features some of the prettiest, and priciest, camels from all around the Arabian Gulf.
Yesterday, the festival, now in its 9th edition, kicked off the Al Dhafra Camel Mazeyna competition. "In its first week, the festival featured the Baynounah Camel Mazeyna, which was open for Emirati camel owners only, and now we started the Al Dhafra Camel Beauty contest, which is open to all GCC camel owners," explained Al Muhairi.
The different category competitions will culminate with the Bayraq categories for both Asayel and Majahim, which will crown the best looking herd of 50 camels with a cash prize of Dh 1,000,000. Second position will be awarded Dh 500,000, while the third will receive Dh 300,000, the fourth Dh 250,000 and the fifth Dh 200,000.
Each category in the competition can last for up to two hours, as the judges inspect each camel individually, including the animals body-legs-neck proportions, hair colour and texture, teeth and eyes.
"Maintaining the beauty of a camel is not easy. Much of it comes from what you feed the camel. Some people give it milk with honey and the best quality grass and fruit. Such foods would help the camel's bones, hair and general looks," said Salem Al Mansouri, one of the Emirati camel owners taking part in the festival.
"The type of food fed to the camel also has a direct influence on the taste of the milk it produces," he added.